Wednesday, March 29, 2017

"Danger Rooms...Are Our Business"

Yeah, most danger rooms/doom rooms/wreck rooms/what-have-you are one-off creations, done by your insanely talented team members, but during the brief hiatus where that person is dead, who are you going to call when the training facility is down?

Yeah. You're going to call Wreckreation.

Not just because they're the only appropriate site with a web page and in the phone book (also approved by BBB), but because they're the only appropriate site.

After he retired from superheroing--reflexes were going--Doc Coney (formerly the Red Wasp) wanted something to keep his mind active. He had enough money, but he didn't have something to keep his mind active. And he loves puzzles. Debugging a danger room is a joy and a thrill to him, especially if it might kill him. "I do some of my best thinking under threat of death," he says.

Even though Doc Coney is brilliant (not as bright as your campaign world's brightest, but good), he can't do it all himself. So he has friends in the superhero and superhero-adjacent community that he calls on as need. Several of them are really the core of Wreckreation, but it's still just a part-time thing for them. (There are perhaps two dozen danger rooms in the world at a level that needs Doc Coney, and maybe less. They don't all malfunction at once.[1])

His regular crew:
  • BDO Initials pronounced as "Beedeeoh," for "big dumb object." BDO is strong, can grow a bit and get even stronger, and is as smart as your typical freshman college football player. (Your estimate of his intelligence varies with your school.) But he is generally easy-going, and he takes instructions very well. Sometimes a bit too literally...
  • Nan O'Bot He grows, she shrinks. It seems like a useful pairing, though they bicker. She would like to be romantically involved with BDO (she's kind of shallow: he makes great arm-candy) but he is not that way inclined. She helps Doc Coney in part to keep up with electrical engineering; her "regular" job lets her get away to do superhero-ing but it's not really demanding professionally.
  • Wisp He's a ghost. Really useful when you want to look into something, and frequently not harmed by the current danger room scenario, so he's useful as the emergency contact. He has a limited ability to affect the real world--a small amount of telekinesis, a little weather control--but he has some great stories about the old days. 

Other people can be called in as needed, such as if there's a specialty they need (extraterrestrial hard light technology, perhaps) or a bizarre power that needs to be tested.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Freedom Force - Bullet - Question

System: ICONS

What do you think? Super speed 7 (Mach 1)?

ICONS as you go

System: ICONS

Had a weird idea yesterday. What if you created your pseudo-random ICONS character as you played the game? Like, the first time you needed to punch someone, you rolled to see what your Strength was for the rest of the game?

Here's how I imagine it would work. Until the character is created, you can't swap specific powers for generic ones.

1. Pick your origin. You could roll it, too, but this is still going to have lots of randomness and less chance to fix it.

2. As you need an ability, such as Strength or Coordination, you roll for it using the levels chart. When you get hit, you have to roll Strength and Willpower, because those determine your Stamina.

3. When you need a power, you roll for it. You don't roll the type of power; that's decided by the situation. "I'm about to be hit; I need something defensive" or "Can I change form?"

4. Instead of the Number of Powers table, you have a Number of Powers target number. When you roll over that in rolling for the type of power, then you have no more powers. The Number of Powers target number starts at 14, and drops by three every time you roll for a power. Your origin modifies the number, not the number of powers you have, so Birthright adds 3 to the target number. So the first power has a TN of 14, then 11, then 8, then 5, and then 2. So you're almost guaranteed two powers, but have to be lucky to get six.

5. You get 2 Specialties  by choice, but you can trade a lower Target Number for 2 specialties.

5. Qualities are created as-needed or at the end of character creation.

6. You get to trade one power for a more generic power.

7. You can trade a power for an extra when you roll the power.

How does that look?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

They must have done this in Batman comics

I was taking/reading one of those ScreenRant tests (yes, I was on Facebook), and I came across the notion that the Riddler actually has the highest IQ of any of Batman's villains. Which is fine, but the picture was some shot of multiple villains but the mastermind was in shadow.

Which made me wonder if they've ever done a bit where the mastermind is Eddie Nigma who isn't leaving clues...he's taken this up as part of his therapy for the clue-giving OCD. The therapist suggested he try small things, so he created a new identity--things that the Riddler wouldn't care about and that he doesn't care about so he has less of a need for the clue-giving. The identity of the new character probably contains a clue that it's the Riddler, but it's a small clue...like Mister Tree (because it's an Enigma wrapped in a puzzle wrapped in a mystery) or Kermit Bongo (alternate names for Conan and Drum, hence Conundrum).

This new identity is successful (Eddie's a smart guy), and when he slips up by leaving clues, the players might well assume that it's the Riddler being a copycat. Players get involved because, hey, it's a series of crimes. In fact, in a nod to one of the Dortmunder books, other criminals might want to get involved because the crimes are successful, so other foes of the PCs start showing up at the crimes. But the crimes only work because Nigma doesn't care about them, so he has less of a need to leave clues. Then the other criminals force him to take something he does care about, and suddenly it's much harder to control the OCD. (Heck, he might even want to be caught by this point because these guys are messing up his treatment! Except he can't leave the usual style of clues; instead he has to leave new subtle clues and hope the PCs are smart enough.)

If you have a Riddler-like villain (Conundrum from M&M, for example) that might be a running thing as part of the set of adventures, leading to the final confrontation, which is when the OCD is really reasserting itself, and the big crime is a combination of both the new style and the Riddler style. (If he makes it out of the session, then the real climax is saving the psychotherapist, who is at risk of being murdered because his treatment didn't work...even though he probably didn't tell Eddie to create a new persona.)

If you're doing something like riddles in an ICONS game, I'd give the willing players five minutes to solve the riddle without rolls, and then make it a pyramid test. The test wouldn't be modified in any way but one: Every roll doubles the amount of time spent. So if they get a massive success in one roll, that's an hour or five hours or a day, whatever you've decided the time increment is. (We'll assume five hours for demonstration.) If they take three rolls, then it's five-ten-twenty hours--basically a day. If they take five rolls, it's eighty hours--a bit more than three days. Once they start rolling, at any point they can spend a determination point for a success.

Here, have a half-assed Riddler...the Puzzler:

Prowess: 3 Coordination: 4 Strength: 3 Int: 7 Awareness: 3 Willpower: 5
Specialties: Puzzles (Expert) +2, Weapons (Guns)
Powers: Bashing (Question mark cane) 5, Gun or equipment as needed
Qualities: Three steps ahead of you; Has to leave clues; Has to be the smartest man in the room

If you wanted to give him a power, maybe he has Probability Control, but only to give his opponents bad luck when figuring out his clues. That makes the pyramid test more of a bartering system, where the players can figure it out faster if they spend points, but they get more points if they let him hinder them....which is kinda like the source material. Killer Gamemaster is somewhat like this, if I recall, though I haven't looked at his write up for a while.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cool site

I think there's only the one post, but a friend pointed me at this:

https://villain-mission-force.tumblr.com/

A cool way to run a Suicide Squad-style session in a certain proprietary universe.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Confession

I really like the villain-on-a-card thing, whether the card is the size of a playing card, a tarot card, or a notecard. I like the artwork and the way things are usually arranged. I loved the cards in DC Heroes 2nd, even though I lost them to a teething puppy who loved cardboard.

I even thought about producing a deck o' villainy, even if it were just for my own use. I mean, villains usually get used in such a way that you end up having to copy them out anyway, even though they come from Enemies or ICONS Adversaries. But a couple of things stopped me:

  1. First, custom cards are expensive until you get to large print orders.
  2. Second, they'd have to be designed, and I didn't see a useful way of doing that, even if I decided on a size. I'm not a layout guy. The best I could do is to ape ICONS Adversaries.
  3. Third, again they're expensive. Superhero gaming is a niche of a niche, and you just wouldn't sell that many.
I just couldn't see gamers buying them. Taking them as a stretch goal in a Kickstarter, maybe, so long as they got the enemies book or PDF, maybe, but not buying them separately.

Sidekix

Way back in the 1990s, I ran a one-off using DC Heroes that I called Sidekix. Basically, it was an adventure where the Teen Titans surrogates had grown up and most had quit adventuring, but old business drew them together. I had the material on my page on Geocities. The team was the Teen Team (I didn't know about Invincible then, if it even existed.)

Between the time that Geocities went down and now, I lost the files. Today I discovered that some sites saved Geocities stuff. So, for your amusement (and really my desire to save stuff), here is a very long post that is the player information for that. Some of the players are named in square brackets; I hope they don't mind. Looking at it again, I suspect I then added material to make it a sourcebook for GMs. It is, however, firmly rooted in the mid 1990s. (I know that Quicksilver wouldn't work as a character name for something published, but players get to name their own characters.)

I might edit this retroactively to add stats for a more recent roleplaying system. I will also fix the formatting, which is a pain to do on the iPad in Blogger.

Sidekix: Player Information


Once upon a time, a group of superhero sidekicks banded together to create the Teen Team. Though they frequently and vehemently denied it, they were basically a second-string Teen Titans. Over their history, they had a large roster of members, though only five or six were active at any given time. About five years ago, the Teen Team formally
disbanded.

Every year, members get together over Christmas for a week in a lodge in the woods. (Lot of sidekicks are orphans, without families for the holidays.) It's not a big secret — members bring their significant others. It's a chance to unwind, see old friends, etc. (The lodge is owned by one of the Team — he made a fortune off the Sidekix TV series (and the toys and the breakfast cereal and...))

This section describes the Teen Team and the guidelines for creating a new character to be part of the Teen Team. I recommend you play one of the existing members, just because it's easier for me.

The players are former members of the Teen Team but they don't have to be active supers. (Several may have given up the idea of superheroing. Frank Miller once said he always figured Dick Grayson gave up being Robin at 20 and opened a sporting goods store.) Or to get extra wonky players could play current spouses of former members.... (Kind of the adventures of Sue Dibny!)

The Teen Team


The Teen Team was a group of young heroes who banded together during the 1980s. In the early 80s, it was Kid Frost, Bullseye, and Courier du Bois, but the group went through four incarnations in its history, and the membership changed each time. Kid Frost and Bullseye have remained members in every incarnation.

Here's the one-page list of members; * indicates a currently active hero:

Core Auxiliary
Bullseye* (Chris Kane), master of throwing things Courier du Bois (Gabrielle Lacroix), speedster
The Fog* (Howie Kunin), a brick Copycat (Cassady Nelson), a Mimic
Glamour Girl (Elisabet Skorzeny), psionicist Fleur de Lis (Elise Marchand) & Wild Rose
(Seana Toomey), May Queen
Ivory (Karen Lincoln), a brick (comatose) Gorgon (Katie Lidofsky), paralyzing brick
Janet Leesk, weirdness magnet Lifter (Naomi Glanzig), gravity control
Kid Frost (Ragnar Eisengrimm),
ice powers
Nocturne (Angela Bisset), darkness powers
Quicksilver (Ken Takahiro), flying speedster Psychopomp,* "Kid Phantom Stranger"
Red Fang (Thomas Greene), martial artist Whirligig (Kelly Garner), a gadgeteer
Scatter (Morgan Crowe), teleporter/disintegrator with a TV show Wonder Lad* (Kenneth Kim), "Flying Brick Lad"

Other members can be added at the discretion of the GM.

History


The history of the Teen Team falls into four main incarnations, although the team wasn't formally disbanded until five years ago. Times given are relative ("years ago" — the dates in brackets were used for the group.)

14-13 years ago (1981-1982)
Team founded by Kid Frost, Bullseye, and Courier du Bois.
13-10 years ago (1983-1985)
The group gets a Jobs Ontario grant to train young metahumans. A lot of activity: Most of the "other" members join (briefly) during this time. Despite all the activity, there's no real feeling of progress or of group cohesion.
10-6 years ago (1985-1989)
Longest continuous membership. The "core" members belong during this time. This is probably the most productive time, personally, for the members of the group.
6-5 years ago (1989-1990)
Following the last fight with Baron Drakonyn (which puts Ivory in a coma), the Team disintegrates into arguments and finally, Bullseye pulls the plug.
2 years ago-present (1993-1995)
The Sidekix TV series becomes popular.

Member Descriptions


These are the "core" members, the ones who belonged during the group's longest-lived incarnation. Of the other members, some are defined, some are not; this is to allow players and GMs some leeway in creating new members.

Stats given are the current versions of the team members. If the differences between current versions and five years ago are minor, earlier stats are given in parentheses (). In some cases (such as The Fog), the earlier statistics are radically different, and these are given in another section ("The Younger Team").

Bullseye (Chris Kane)


One of the few active crime-fighters left in the group. A master of throwing things — he has an extensive collection of grenades, bolos, throwing disks, boomerangs, and so on. (He uses them in combat, but they're not yet reflected in his character writeup.) He owns a small number of collector's items — the javelin used to set the current world record, a boomerang from Captain Boomerang, and a Batarang. All three were gifts from Bolo, his
(former) patron. He's since had a falling out with Bolo, when he discovered that Bolo had feet of clay. (The nature of the failing is up to the GM and the player.)

He's got a mordant sense of humour, but without that, he's a bit of a dickweed. Very upright, very moral. He's the one who had the "true stories" clause inserted in the Sidekix releases that everyone signed. He's also something of a neat freak.

One of his hobbies is cooking; he and Ivory have had fierce discussions over the proper preparation of butter tarts (it's an East-West thing).

Chris is currently an instructor in military history at RMC (Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario). He divides his time between Kingston and Winnipeg.

Dex 5 Str 3 Body 5 Initiative 16
Int 5 Will 4 Mind 5 Hero Points 27
Infl 6 Aura 4 Spirit 4 Wealth 6

Motivation: Upholding the Good

Advantages: Sharp Eye

Skills: Medicine (First Aid) 6, Vehicles 7, Weaponry (Missiles, Exotic) 8

Drawbacks: Secret ID, Serious Irrational Attraction to strict moral code

Patron: Bolo (estranged)

Appearance: Solidly built, Chris must exercise regularly or he starts to put on weight. Light brown hair and hazel eyes.

Relations with others: Chris is probably closest to Janet. He frequently argued with the rest of the group of the "proper" way to do things. (Chris is a stickler for detail when it comes to crime fighting.) He would never call someone by a nickname while in costume.

The Fog (Howard Kunin [James Nicoll])


Born in 1968 to a single mother who then handed Howie off to a series of relatives, Howie never had a stable home life. In 1985, he discovered some Miraclo in a Tyler Industries factory an uncle was guarding. By 1986, he was fighting crime as the Fog, alongside Mr. Whisper, a super-stealthy martial artist type. In 1987, he joined the Teen Team for 18 months, and then was asked to resign since the government did not want the negative PR of having a super on the team whose powers derived from a drug.

A few years back, he fought RipTide, who cunningly dissolved all of Howie's Miraclo pills and then dropped a cliff on him. As Howie was bleeding to death, a Lord of Chaos offered him a deal — innate powers in exchange for a few favours down the line. Howie said yes.

Since then, he has been offering his services as an occult fixer, dealing with deluded minions of Chaos ("You set up a rigid hierarchy to worship a chaotic god?") and the less pleasant servants of the Lords of Order. He has an ad offering his services in the Yellow Pages. So far, his patron seems to be one of the nicer Lords of Chaos and hasn't asked for anything Howie wasn't willing to do.

Dex 5 Str 9 Body 9 Initiative 15
Int 5 Will 5 Mind 4 Hero Points 16
Infl 5 Aura 9 Spirit 5 Wealth 3

Powers: Fog* 9 (17), Truesight (mystic link) 5 (27), Regeneration* 5 (49), Magic Sense 5 (27), Awareness 10 (31)

Skills: Occultist 9 (120)

Advantages: Scholar (stage magic), Scholar (Lords of Chaos), Scholar (Occult Groups)

Bonus: His strength is considered Magical (+1 FC), so a punch from the Fog will trigger a Vulnerability to Magical attacks

Wealth: 3 (4)

Drawbacks: Serious Irrational fear of Rejection, Loss Vulnerability, Powers and Attributes in Realms of Law (0 APs range) (175-50), Public ID (5), Traumatic Flashback — Rejection (60), Serious Irrational Attraction - Untidy (25), Serious Irrational Attraction — Occult (25)

Appearance: 5 ft 10, 140 lbs (wiry, not skinny) grey eyes and hair. He keeps his hair about shoulder length. He doesn't wear a costume any more, but usually wears grey jeans and a grey shirt (easier to colour-coordinate if everything's the same colour). He has a beard off and on — currently, he has a scruffy goatee w/ no moustache. He has many small scars from regenerated near-fatal wounds and is missing the tip of his finger from a scuffle with a cultist with a very sharp knife last week. Usually he looks a bit distracted and acts a bit distant because of his second sight.

Tactics: He tries to talk things out until he gets hit, then he fogs the area (if he's working alone) and tries to subdue the person hitting him as painlessly as possible. If that doesn't work, he tries to lie very very still until his regen kicks in.

Personality: Howie has drifted apart from or been kicked out of every relationship he's ever had, and any hint that it was going to happen again would make him very depressed. He is compulsively untidy and this extends to things like saving phone numbers or remembering dates.

Relationships: Zip. Mr Whisper dumped him because he wasn't serious enough (Mr. Whisper looks like Chalky from Giles, if you dressed him in spandex and kevlar, btw). Howie likes most folks, but things never work out so that they stay in touch. The Teen Teamer he has run into most often is Janet Leesk, because their cases sometimes intersect.

In the group, the only people he dislikes are Glamour Girl and Red Fang, because he thinks they are users and that's wrong. Psychopomp keeps showing up and dumping him into situations Howie can't handle, which is annoying. He thinks Leesk is way cute.

Glamour Girl (Elisabet Skorzeny)


Product of Romanian research into psionics. She escaped before the purge. She's very vain and acquisitive about things Western. Now a mid-level fashion model, and not particularly well-liked by her peers.

Dex 3 Str 2 Body 3 Initiative: 14
Int 4 Will 7 Mind 6 Hero Points: 26
Infl 7 Aura 6 Spirit 7 Wealth: 7

Motivation: Thrill of Adventure

Powers: Flight 5, Exorcism* 7, Mind Field* 7, Mental Freeze* 7, Mind Blast* 7, Broadcast Empathy 7, True Sight* 7

Advantages: Attractive, Connoisseur

Drawbacks: Voluntary Exile, Attack vulnerability (-2 CS vs. drugs), Serious Irrational Attraction to own beauty (vanity)

Relations with others: She was jealous of Karen (Ivory), and occasionally contemptuous of Janet ("She has no powers"). She got along best with Morgan because they shared some attitudes, next with Ragnar because he's so amiable. Ragnar had a brief crush on her, but saw it was going nowhere.

Ivory (Karen Lincoln)


Karen Lincoln was at camp and got lost on an overnight hike. She nearly died, but aliens found her in the forest and fixed her. They didn't know tough and strong a human was supposed to be... She's very strong and tough, but her hair and skin are no longer black, they're coloured ivory (hence her codename).

She was the de facto team leader for years (although no one on the team would have said there was a leader). She's also the most popular member of the Team; think of her has the calm center of the storm, the heart of the group. Given this, it's understandable that the Team fell apart after she fell into a coma.

This is not to say she didn't have her problems; among other things, she received some flak for not being "black" enough. (Her parents were doctors, and she had no experience with being poor.) She empathized strongly with those who were outcast or "different" — she had been there, both as a black in a mostly-white environment, and as a black who was no longer black.

During the last battle with Baron Drakonyn, she was hit with a mystic artifact and went down. She has never awakened. Much of her medical treatment has been funded by Quicksilver Couriers (and OHIP, of course :).

Her parents received power of attorney over her in 1990. They were killed in a car crash last year, so power of attorney has devolved onto their executor, Elliot Clarke, a Halifax attorney.

Dex 6 Str 11 Body 7 Initiative: 16
Int 5 Will 5 Mind 5 Hero Points:
Infl 5 Aura 4 Spirit 4 Wealth: 5

Powers: Skin Armor* 7, Jumping 9

Advantages: Popularity, Attractive, Sharp Eye, Leadership

Skills: Charisma (Persuasion) 7, Medicine* (First Aid) 5

Drawbacks: Public ID, Uncertainty, Attack Vulnerability (-2 CS vs. magic)

Motivation: Responsibility of Power

Relations with others: She was reluctant to declare herself a leader. She got along reasonably well with everyone, although Elisabet gave her the most conflict personally. Unless she felt very strongly, she usually let Chris have his way in battle because Chris' own moral code prevented him from doing anything less than what was best for the group. She was dating Ken Takahiro (Quicksilver) when she was put in the coma.

Ivory had no nicknames; she was referred to as Karen as often as Ivory. Once, in an argument, Elisabet made fun of her by talking jive (as she had learned it from television shows) — one of the few times anyone ever saw Karen cry.

Janet Leesk


Her power, if you want to call it that, is that she's a weirdness magnet of immense degree. The synchronicity highway is a fact of life to Janet. The (contradictory) result of this is that, while she's still an innocent in many ways, the odd situations she's encountered have forced her to learn pretty much all of the skills in the rulebook.

Today she's a detective with Pinkerton's; she's lost the baby fat she had before and looks good. She's still bothered by the fact that Thomas regarded their one-night stand as a sympathy job.

Dex 4 Str 2 Body 4 Initiative 16
Int 6 Will 5 Mind 7 Hero Points 31
Infl 6 Aura 5 Spirit 7 Wealth 5

Motivation: Thrill of Adventure

Advantages: Sharp Eye, Intensive Training, Iron Nerves, Omni-Connection, Luck

Skills: Acrobatics* 5, Charisma* 6, Detective 7, Martial Artist 5, Medicine* (Forensics and First Aid) 6, Occult* 6

Drawbacks: Innocent, Unluck

Powers: Janet has one power: she's a weirdness magnet of immense degree. This is reflected by her Luck and Unluck. (In game terms, it's largely a GM function.)

Patron: None

Appearance: Now in her early twenties, she's of medium height and build. Her eyes are brown, her hair is chestnut (with a little help from her hairdresser) and currently kept in a Louise Brooks bob.

Relations with others: Janet gets along well with Bullseye and with Howie. She once had an obvious crush on Thomas, but has since gotten over it.

Nicknames: Ragnar occasionally called Janet "Weirdness Magnet Girl."

Kid Frost (Ragnar Eisengrimm)


Ragnar's anything but cool (forgive the pun). Enthusiastic, he's the one who keeps re-forming the group. He knows that he doesn't work well
on his own (not motivated enough, perhaps), but he's an excellent team player.

His patron was Iceberg, who recognized Ragnar's mutant powers and schooled him so the boy wouldn't hurt anyone. Their relationship has been strained for the last few years because Ragnar hasn't moved on.

There's some opportunity for comedy, too, since Ragnar really is trying to find a new group to join, but isn't having much success. ("A form
letter!
The Outsiders rejected me with a form letter!")

His fiancee is Wendy Ault; her family has disinherited her because they don't approve of Ragnar. Their money troubles make Ragnar particularly anxious that no money has ever shown up from the Sidekix TV show.

Dex 5 Str 3 Body 4 Initiative 17
Int 5 Will 5 Mind 5 Hero Points 28
Infl 5 Aura 4 Spirit 4 Wealth 4

Motivation: Upholding the Good

Advantages: Scholar (Engineering)

Skills: Martial Artist 6

Powers: Ice Production 10, Icing 1

Drawbacks: Secret ID, Uncertainty, 2 column shifts vs. heat attacks

Patron: Permafrost

Appearance: Ragnar is 6'2" and lean, with blue eyes and straw-blond hair, usually cut short. He has thin lips and a tan complexion. As himself, he tends to dress in blue jeans and flannel plaid shirts or teeshirts, usually in greens and browns. As Kid Frost, he wears shaded goggles, a pale-blue and silver body suit, often with a jacket. He uses his 1 AP of Icing to disguise his face.

Relations with others: Ragnar gets along with nearly everybody. Morgan and Thomas call him Frosty. Chris Kane never calls him anything but Kid Frost while in costume.

Quicksilver (Ken Takahiro [Brian Dorion])


Flying speedster. His powers manifested at 14, after a trip to Japan with his mother, though there's no indication of what caused them to bloom. He joined the group in 1988.

He was dating Ivory when she was hurt. Afterwards, he quit with a flurry of criticism ("What's the point of all of this? Why don't we make
some money from this?") and founded Quicksilver Courier. He also got married to Phoebe Chin, who's perceived as a real party girl. The business prospered (Jag and a Porsche in the garage) and specializes in couriering medical items. (Motto: "When it absolutely has to get there in ten minutes.") He has recently branched out into hiring other kinds of metahumans.

He just separated from his wife, Phoebe Chin, who figured he'd stopped being a party guy.

Dex 5 Str 3 Body 3 Initiative 24
Int 4 Will 4 Mind 5 Hero Points 105
Infl 4 Aura 4 Spirit 5 Wealth 10

Motivation: Unwanted Power

Skills: Martial Artist* 5

Powers: Flight 14 (approx. 28,000 mph), Superspeed 9

Gadget: Costume: [BODY: 7]

Advantages: Low Security Clearance (15 pts), Scholar (Business)

Drawbacks: Public ID, Guilt, Minor Irrational Attraction to Action (impatient)

Patron: None.

Appearance: Ken is about 5'10", 178 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He's half Japanese.

Relations with others: He was dating Ivory.

Red Fang (Thomas Greene)


Thomas was your basic angry-native-martial artist. Patron was Coyote. He really hates the whole noble savage image — unless it gets him laid. Thomas had hormones and urges like very few others. He hit on everyone in the Team. He's devastatingly attractive, and knows it.

After a bad period drinking and treatment for sex addiction, he's turned himself around. Quitting drinking has given him a potbelly, though he still keeps himself limber and active. Today he works in a youth counseling center in Brantford.

Dex 7 (8) Str 3 Body 4 Initiative 21
Int 5 Will 4 Mind 3 Hero Points 12
Infl 5 Aura 4 Spirit 4 Wealth 4

Motivation: Seeking Justice

Advantages: Scholar (Counseling), Lightning Reflexes

Skills: Martial Artist 8, Thief 6, Military Science 6

Drawbacks: Secret ID, Serious Irrational Attraction to women (later to self-control)

Appearance: Handsome, tall, Ojibway. Imagine a younger version of Grahame Greene with a potbelly.

Patron: Coyote.

Relations with others: Open to interpretation. He argued a lot with Bullseye, whom he regarded as a competitor in terms of combat ability.

Scatter (Morgan Crowe)


Could teleport items; if he didn't want the item to arrive, it didn't.

Morgan is the one who got everyone to sign the forms, and who made the fortune off the Sidekix TV show.

Dex 5 Str 3 Body 5 Initiative 15
Int 4 Will 4 Mind 5 Hero Points 27
Infl 6 Aura 4 Spirit 4 Wealth 7

Motivation: Unwanted Power

Skills: Actor 5

Powers: Teleportation 7, Disintegration 7, Force Field 7

Bonuses and Limitations: Teleportation doesn't necessarily include self (+1); Teleportation only works on objects at range of Touch (-1); Disintegration power only works on items that could be teleported (-1 FC); Force Field is self only.

Drawbacks: Public ID

Patron: None.

Appearance: Morgan is just under six feet tall and works out regularly; off-screen he looks a trifle thin and hollow-cheeked. He keeps his hair bleached blond and short. His eyes are gray.

Relations with others: He got along with anyone who wasn't strongly "superhero-ey."

Morgan hated his codename, and tried several during his time with the Team, although he kept coming back to Scatter. Janet would occasionally
ask him what his "nom de boom" was today.

Other Members


Here are some of the other members of the Teen Team, over the years. They have sketchier descriptions and backgrounds, of course.

Courier du Bois (Gabrielle Lacroix)


Speedster, and one of the founding members of the group. After the little
fracas with her mentor, Voyageur, she retired. Now works in the department
of metahuman affairs in Ottawa.

Copycat (Cassady Nelson)


Metagene carrier with gross Mimic power. Nowadays, works as a stunt man/actor in Vancouver; has worked on the Sidekix TV show.

Fleur de Lis and Wild Rose


Just over twenty years ago, there was another attempt at a May Queen (as Poison Ivy had been an attempt), this time on an unborn child. Twins were born. Those who oppose these things arranged for the death of the girls' parents and the girls went to separate orphanages, one in Quebec
and another in Alberta. Both sisters now live in Vancouver. Seana is divorced and Elise has never married.

Elise and Seana are identical twins. Both are slim strawberry blondes
with violet eyes. Elise has slightly better muscle tone than Seana does
and has a somewhat haunted look about her. Seana is more open and aggressive.


Wild Rose (Seana Toomey)


Seana tends to be aggressive and forthright than her sister. She is
also more set in her views; she doesn't have her sister's history of mild
mental instability to create uncertainty.

Dex 5 Str 2 Body 4 Initiative 17
Int 6 Will 4 Mind 4 Hero Points 61
Infl 6 Aura 8 Spirit 7 Wealth 5

Motivation: Thrill of Adventure

Powers: Plant Control* 8, Poison Touch 5, Joined* 8, Systemic
Antidote 5

Skills: Charisma 7, Artist (Photographer) 7

Drawbacks: Secret Id, Fatal Vulnerability (range Touch: -50)
to herbicides (common)

Fleur de Lis (Elise Marchand)

Elise is more cautious, and tends to be more reflective. Fleur de Lis
tends to be the reflective one; although her powers are not "combat"
powers, she does train in the martial arts.

Dex 5 Str 3 Body 5 Initiative 17
Int 6 Will 4 Mind 5 Hero Points 61
Infl 6 Aura 4 Spirit 4 Wealth 5

Motivation: Unwanted Power

Powers: Plant Growth* 8, Awareness 12, Magic Sense 8, Systemic
Antidote 5, Speak to Plants 6

Skills: Martial Arts 7

Drawbacks: Minor Psychological Instability (blackouts), Fatal
Vulnerability (range Touch: -50) to herbicides (common)

Gorgon (Katie Lidofsky)


Brick whose gaze could turn people to "stone", though it wore
off.

Lifter (Naomi Glanzig)


Naomi is a mutant with the ability to siphon mass from one object and
place it on another. She adventured with the Team briefly when they had
a Jobs Canada grant to train young metahumans in the use of their powers.
She had a teenage marriage that broke up and left her with a three-year-old
son. Her stiff-necked pride has often caused her to refuse help when it's
offered.

Naomi Croft discovered she was a mutant when she was in her middle teens.
By then she was already pregnant and soon after, she dropped out of high
school and married her boyfriend, Paul Glanzig. When their son Frankie
was sixteen months old, Paul lost his job at the distillery and took off
for parts unknown. Too proud to ask for help from her parents, she joined
a pilot Jobs Ontario Canada program to teach mutants to handle their powers.
The Teen Team were the program. When the program's funding ran out, she
left the Team.

She tries to earn money using her powers on construction sites and so
forth, but she's rarely needed. (Most jobs are budgeted to use cranes and
similar equipment; there's also the fact that when she lifts more than
4 APs of weight, she takes damage, unless she aims at something else.)

She dotes on Frankie but can be a stern disciplinarian. If invited to
the party, she would refuse to go unless she could get there under her
own power. She has been to the get-together in the past, but Team members
have to essentially conspire to kidnap her.

Naomi is generally considered to be tough, mentally. Naomi is uncomfortable
in high society; she'd rather spend a night in a bar drinking beers (she
prefers Labatt Blue).

Dex 5 Str 4 Body 7 Initiative 14
Int 4 Will 5 Mind 5 Hero Points 7
Infl 5 Aura 4 Spirit 5 Wealth 4

Motivation: Mercenary

Advantages: Iron Nerves

Skills: Charisma 6

Powers: Gravity Increase 8, Gravity Decrease 8,
Density Increase 4

Limitations: Both gravity powers always go off
simultaneously, transferring the mass from one object to another. If only
one power is aimed, the excess mass always comes from/goes to Lifter herself.
If she is receiving the Gravity Increase, she takes damage from Gravity
Increase as normal. (-2 FC)

Drawbacks: Misc: Family (equivalent to Married),
Minor Irrational Fear of Darkness, Serious Irrational Attraction to Independence


Appearance: A wiry, strong-jawed blonde, Naomi
usually keeps her hair in a ponytail, threaded through the back of her
baseball cap. She's partial to tee-shirts and jeans, though she owns one
interview dress (navy blue) and one church dress (off-white).

Note: Use of the Gravity power(s) is always a Trick
Shot. If both powers are aimed (on different targets, obviously), it's
treated as a Trick Shot and a Multi-Attack. If one (or more) of the powers
is doing a Multi-Attack, use double the largest group for the modifiers.


Mantis (Bobby Prescott) [Jim Gardner]


Ten-year-old Bobby Prescott rescued a Praying Mantis from a group of
boys who were torturing it. This caught the attention of the Mantis God,
who rewarded Bobby in the only way it knew how: it turned Bobby into a
six-foot-tall human-mantis thing. Bobby desperately wants to be "one
of the guys" but can't because of his Strange Appearance.

Since the Team broke up, he too has drifted. He moved to British Columbia
because the winters were milder. He is actively involved in the ecology
movement, although he is frequently shot at, since the authorities naturally
mistrust a giant insect.

Dex 7 Str 7 Body 5 Initiative 14
Int 5 Will 5 Mind 5 Hero Points 105
Infl 5 Aura 5 Spirit 5 Wealth 0

Motivation: Unwanted Power

Skills: 7 Martial Arts*

Powers: 5 Cling*, 7 Extra Limb*, 7 Extra Limb* (two extra legs),
5 Skin Armor*, 7 Superspeed*, 5 Full Vision*, 5 Solar Sustenance*, 5 Speak
w/Animals*, 5 Animal Summoning*, 5 Animal Control*

Limitations: Speak With Animals is Insects only; Summoning is
Praying Mantises only.

Drawbacks: Physical: No real hands (25), Public ID, Strange Appearance
(30),Traumatic Flashbacks (life before transformation) (60), Irrational
Attraction to insects, Mistrust, Psychological Instability (25)

Appearance: Bobby is now a six-foot-tall mantis-human. He has
no opposable thumbs, and speaks by vibrating a tympanum. He has four legs,
wings, and large bulgy eyes that give him 360-degree vision and the ability
to see in the dark.

Nocturne (Angela Bisset)


Darkness based powers, vulnerability to light. Originally belonged to the Fraternity of Darkness. Had a tremendous crush on Bullseye, but nothing ever came of it.

The Psychopomp


(AKA Kid Phantom Stranger). No one ever knew his real name. He sometimes showed up, pointed to things, and then disappeared. As Robin once said re: The Phantom Stranger, Psychopomp is big on cryptic. Janet gave him the name "Psychopomp," saying that's what he was. If you need a character write-up, give him 15 APs of Awareness and Sorcery each. I don't recommend giving him to a player.

Whirligig (Kelly Garner)


Gadgeteer. Now working for STAR Labs.

White Dwarf (N'kulanpasst'k)


White Dwarf was an alien princess who had been exposed to light passing through a fragment of a white dwarf star (the same thing that shrank Ray Palmer). Wary of the fact that she might explode (as most shrunk objects did), her people exiled her for the safety of the planet. She came to Earth to talk to Ray Palmer (she'd heard about him through the JLA and the Green Lanterns), but never actually managed to meet him. She eventually gained the ability to adjust her size to between two millimeters and five centimeters. She was fantastically strong and was often used for covert operations. Unfortunately, she understood almost no Earthly technology, and her people had a taboo against eating or drinking in public (defecation and fornication were fine, however). She has not been heard from for years.

Wonder Lad (Kenneth Kim)


Kenneth Kim (AKA "Generic Flying Brick Lad"). The current Canadian Shield, after the original Shield's scandalous departure.

Creating Your Own Teen Team Member


Some players won't find an existing Team member who interests them; that's fine. Here are the guidelines for creating your own members of the Teen Team:

Create a 450-point base character. Standard 15 point bonuses for background, appearance, and personality. Character creation questionnaire would include such questions as:

  • Why did you join the Teen Team?
  • Why did you quit?
  • Who did you argue with the most?
  • Did you ever date anyone in the Teen Team?
  • Would you consider yourself part of the "main" Teen Team?
  • Why did you come to the annual get-together?
  • What is your general attitude towards heroes?
  • Have you kept any secrets from the other members?
  • Are you a sidekick — have you a patron hero?
  • If so, what's your relationship like with your patron? What's your
    history?
  • Are you still an active hero? If not, why not?

Because the Teen Team is defined as having had such a large membership, the GM could control aspects of the scenario through the NPC members. For instance, a PC decides to play Carbon. The GM can create a whole history of a relationship with, oh, Glamour Girl.

That's meant to be part of the fun. Since the group broke up, you're free to make up the relationships you want. ("Bullseye? Oh, I hated him. He was such a stuffed shirt.")

Why Did You Leave The Team?


Each person left for his or her own reasons. Here are some possibilities:

Encroaching Adulthood
Only Peter Pan stays a child forever, and (as Jung suggested), we never solve the eternal problems, just accept them and move on to new ones. The Teen Team grew up, and most of them gave up crime-fighting.
With Great Power Comes Great Tragedy
Some tragedy (the death of Coyote, the Red Fang's patron; Ivory falling into a coma) sobered them and took the fun out of crime-fighting. In the same vein, perhaps the death of a team member changed their minds. ("Without Whirligig, it's not the same.")
Failure
They failed at something, something important: their last case, as it were.
Interpersonal conflicts
Maybe they were just arguing too much.
Inferiority complex
They were tired of being compared (unfavorably) to the Teen Titans.
Betrayal
They were all betrayed or blackmailed. (Maybe they all have bombs in their chests.) This one applies to the entire group, so it should be approved by the GM.
Fate
A Mystic Premonition said they would destroy the world if they stayed together as a group. (But maybe the mystic was lying. Maybe the mystic was bribed, or it was faked. Or maybe it's correct, which puts a heck of a damper on the parties.) This one applies to the entire group, so it should be approved by the GM.

Team Interaction


In combat, Bullseye generally took the lead but no one wanted to follow him out of combat. He's certainly the living member with the best tactical experience.

When they weren't actually fighting, Ivory was the de facto leader — but "de facto" means that others often disagreed and she had no way to enforce her wishes.

Team Response and Tactics


The two fastest members of the core team are Quicksilver and Kid Frost. Under normal circumstances, Ivory and Scatter were also fast, but they couldn't travel over water. The group had two cars, one on loan from Bolo and the other on loan from Permafrost.

While they had the Jobs Ontario grant, they also had use of several government vehicles for travelling to the scene of a problem, so long as it was within Ontario: a van (actually a decommissioned ambulance), an OPP cruiser, and they could request use of a helicopter.

The normal response procedure was to get Quicksilver, Ivory, Scatter, and Bullseye to the scene as quickly as possible. (Usually Quicksilver carried Bullseye and Ivory carried Scatter.) Quicksilver and Bullseye did the initial recon and assessment. Once Ivory and Scatter arrived, Bullseye would direct the rest of the team by radio while the other three took the initial action.

The Team (with the exception of Quicksilver) was notoriously unwilling to attack. Conversation with the foe was almost always the first tactic tried. Ivory especially was willing to be hit two or three times before she responded.

For the GM's convenience, here's an ordering of the core members by various attributes. The list assumes that the character is using their best power or skill for movement or attack; it doesn't include Martial Arts as a defense, though it does include Martial Arts as an offense.

Move Attack Defenses P M S
Quicksilver 14 Ivory 11 Ivory 14 5 4
Ivory 9 Kid Frost 10 Scatter 12 5 4
Kid Frost 8 The Fog 9 Kid Frost 10 5 4
Scatter 7 Quicksilver 9 The Fog 9 4 5
Glamour Girl 5 Red Fang 8 Quicksilver 7 5 5
Janet Leesk 4 Bullseye 8 Bullseye 5 5 4
The Fog 4 Glamour Girl 7 Janet Leesk 4 7 7
Red Fang 4 Scatter 7 Red Fang 4 3 4
Bullseye 4 Janet Leesk 5 Glamour Girl 3 13 7

This was sometimes modified if they knew the type of opponent they were facing. When facing a mentalist, for exampe, Glamour Girl was often sent in first, simply because she's so much tougher mentally than the rest. Against occult foes, Janet often directed the action — because she knew more.

Supporting Cast


Too large to go into in great depth (besides, this is the sort of stuff that ought to be developed by accretion over years of stories), the following were of some importance to the group at one time or another:

Aaron Beaman
Attorney for the group, featured prominently in the Light One Matchstick story arc.
Phoebe Chin
Ken Takahiro's wife, a real party girl, most members of the team considered his marriage was a mistake, something he did as denial of Ivory's condition. She and Ken have now separated, and it's widely expected that she'll try and take him to the cleaners.
Caitlin Cioppa
Elisabet's sponsor to Canada, an historian with the University of Toronto.
Norm Crowley
Engineer/architect who worked with them. He is secretly Permafrost, Kid Frost's patron. (Only Kid Frost and his fiancee know this.)
Marlyn Deibler
Crown Attorney specializing in prosecution of metahuman cases.
Michelle Drinkwater
Was Red Fang's significant significant other. She eventually left him, precipitating a drunken period in Red Fang's life. She's now a law student at the University of Western Ontario.
Ramona Glick
Former sweetie to Morgan Crowe. See "The Unicorn's Horn."
Reuben Grant
STAR Labs contact. He was good friends with Kelly Garner (Whirligig).
Rosemary Grimaldo
The team's doctor. She's still the doctor for the members who remain in Ontario, and she keeps an eye on Ivory.
M.A. Parmenter
The pseudonym of a newspaper columnist for the Toronto Star who criticized the Teen Team. They never found out who actually wrote the columns.
Nicholas Stuart
A former boyfriend of Janet's.
Seonaid Todd
A Haligonian girlfriend of Ivory's. (It's pronounced "Shona".)
Bernice (Bernie) Truffaut
Friend of the Team, spent most of her time with Morgan.
Gregory Vadim
A Montreal associate of the Mafia who interceded on the Team's behalf once or twice. They have an uneasy truce with him; Elisabet dated him for a short period.
Jacqueline (Jackie) Wilkinson
Ragnar's girlfriend through much of his teens. After they broke up, he still had tremendous feelings for her. The Terrible Taskmaster capitalized on those once, kidnapping her (and incidentally destroying any chance they might get back together).

Foes


Over the years, the Teen Team fought a lot of people, although they were more likely to just invite the villains in for coffee and a chance to talk.

Of established foes in the DC universe, they've faced:
  • Copperhead
  • Dr. Light
  • The Fearsome Three
  • Plastique
  • Poison Ivy (concerning Fleur
    de Lis and Wild Rose)
  • Solomon Grundy
  • Two-Face
  • Weather Wizard

And, of course, they've developed their own rogues gallery over those years as well:

Baron Drakonyn
Arguably the most powerful of their foes, he was a sorcerer from another dimension who never gave up trying to generate the necromantic energy he needed to get back home. In their last battle, he had founded a career as an inspirational speaker, and was planning to kill everyone at one of his rallies in an attempt to get the energy to cross the dimensional barrier. Currently suing the Sidekix TV series over misrepresentation.
Carnivora
Human/animal gene splicing gone amok! She was primarily a pawn of other villains, but powerful enough to take on over half of the Team. Currently touring South America in a freak show (she fell in love with the manager).
The Conjure Posse
A drug-running posse who also used magic and occult ceremonies.
Lucifer Jones and Matchstick
One of their most enigmatic foes, Lucifer Jones was a pseudonym for a computer hacker who managed to frame them for murder — though there was no body, and no crime. It was done all through manipulating records. The Team eventually tracked it to a hacker named Gareth Cole, but they got to Cole after the 1000 did, and Cole had been killed. No clue as to why Cole did it, and no indication of Matchstick represented someone real.
Fraternity of Darkness
A group of darkness-based villains, mainly mercenary. It consisted of Master Midnight, Anthracite, Inkblot, Munquita Negro, Blackout, Shado, and Nocturne. Nocturne later defected from the Fraternity and joined the Team.
Ice-9
An ice-powered mutant like Kid Frost, Ice-9 was a dystopian Vonnegut fan. His crimes centered around the disruption of authority.
The Terrible Taskmaster
A mentalist, real name Rene Surer, who faced the Team at least twice, and may have been behind other apparently meaningless attacks by supervillains. He once joined with Turret (Anthony Jobes) and Basilisk (Alex Lidofsky, Gorgon's brother).
Trinity
A composite being (one human, one alien, one demon) who could switch between sets of powers, rather like Ultra Boy with power sets. That is, he could attack physically or mentally or mystically. He could target any individual member of the Team at his or her weakest point, but as a group, they could defeat him (though it often meant finding a mystically-powered hero).

Old Adventures of the Teen Team


These adventures give the players something to talk about, and give them (and the GM) a feel for the tone of the group. An adventure referred to as "no longer in continuity" is a joke; I was having a good time making up counterparts to corny old Teen Titans adventures.

The Daddy-O Rebellion
All three patrons give up fighting crime. (The reason is left for the GM, though in the grand (and slightly patronizing) tradition of the first Teen Titans, it's probably one of:
  • As a ruse to draw out some powerful enemies
  • As a ruse against someone trying to ferret out their
    secret IDs
  • Because they're being mentally controlled
  • As a way of teaching their sidekicks a lesson
This story is no longer considered in continuity.
At The Hop
No longer considered in continuity.
My Generation
No longer considered in continuity.

Then there's a gap. The following stories are all from late in their
career (The New Teen Team, 3rd series).
Envy is Green
Poison Ivy attacked a small town in Quebec, searching for Fleur de Lis. In a subplot, Bullseye is irritated and edgy because Ivory is ignoring his advances and paying attention to Josh Thibault, a local.
Nothing Ever Happens in Rockwood Falls
While travelling cross-country to take Fleur de Lis to her sister, the team stops in Rockwood Falls, a quiet rural community in Alberta. The Psychopomp appears to let them know there was more going on than met the eye: cattle mutilations, ritual deaths, an obscure cult where a young girl was to be killed because she couldn't be exorcised.
Curse the Darkness
Appearance of the Fraternity of Darkness.
Target Practice
After discovering his mentor in a compromising situation, Bullseye loses his aim...just as one of his old foes gets out of jail and starts hunting him down.
The Eden Agenda
The Teen Team dealt with teen-age eco-terrorists. Internal conflicts arose because the Team basically agreed with the group but not their methods.
Thirty Deaths Hath September
A serial killer/terrorist decides to commit one murder a day as a challenge to the Teen Team.
Enter Stranglehold
A new villain named Stranglehold defeats the Teen Team at every turn. In the end, Stranglehold is defeated easily by Animal Man and Ralph Dibny, who out-think the villain in seconds.
Last Refuge of the Incompetent
After failing to stop Stranglehold, the Teen Team find themselves questioning whether violent action is the correct way to deal with supervillains — and whether the Teen Team is a useful organization.
Unicorn's Horn
Ramona Glick, Morgan's great love and affiliated with the ecoterrorists of an earlier adventure, has her metagene activated. She gains the ability to purify pollutants and other toxins; while her body is processing the toxins, her skin takes on a purple hue. She sees it as a way to help the world. She's non-violent ("Oh, so that's you were involved with ecoterrorists," said Morgan). After arguments about how her powers should be used ("We can rent you out," suggested Morgan) she takes on too much, too fast, and dies.
Light One Matchstick
The arc involving Lucifer Matchstick.
And Kindly Stop for Me
Voyageur (the patron of Courier du Bois) is dying, and wants to die. Courier du Bois comes into conflict with the Team when she tries to help her patron die.
Seven Sins of Highly Effective People
The last battle with Baron Drakonyn. Ivory is knocked into a coma in the battle.
Memories of Ivory
Talk episode revolving around Ivory, who's now in a coma; members discuss their relationships with her. Quicksilver quits.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Incentives

I was listening to Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff this morning, and Ken Hite mentioned his general preference for providing clearly-provided incentives for things you want the players to do.

Now, ICONS is a general superhero rules set. You can do pretty much anything that happens in comics with it, and comics is a wide-open field, being the kitchen-sink speculative fiction of our time. (It's all in there: Science fiction, Lovecraft, magic, swords-and-sorcery, teen apocalypse romance, all of it.) But by default, ICONS lends itself to mainstream superhero comics from about the sixties to the eighties. I know a lot of people look at the art and go, "Silver Age." You can do so much more, though.

Take, for example, mysteries. They aren't as common as they once were, but the original Elongated Man stories were puzzle stories (for some reason, one of my clearest memories is Ralph explaining why he wasn't the crook even though the ski tracks passed on either side of a tree, so it looked like a stretchy guy had done it). Investigation into the puzzle is part of the standard adventure structure that Steve Kenson lays out in the rulebook, but I'm thinking a more detailed kind of mystery, rather than figuring out where the bad guys are.



ICONS has an obvious incentive mechanism: Determination points. When a player does something you like, reward it with a Determination point. Assigning a particular form of Advantage is a more limited way to do it, and assigning a particular form of Trouble is a stick rather than a carrot.

There are ways to do mysteries in ICONS. If your players aren't particularly into it, do it as a pyramid test. This is the offhand side mystery, where they might need some of the information, but roleplaying the investigation is not possible because of a time crunch or because the roleplaying part is only fun for one of the players. In fact, if one of the players has the Investigation specialty, you might even give them a "Gumshoe-style" bonus, where they get some information no matter what possibly equal to a major success in the pyramid test. The major success is equal to a clue or three (depending on how many clues you have prepared).

While that's a kind of incentive, it doesn't really signal to the players that they should investigate this with roleplaying and so on. Now, since they can spend a Determination point to get a hint from the GM, I suggest that you can do the opposite: They get a Determination point for trying. If they need to, they can spend the point later to get the hint.

It's less desirable, but you can use the stick instead. Perhaps the players get some kind of social Trouble if they don't investigate. The most obvious is "Character suspected of crime and must clear name" but your situation might call for others.




Ultimately, it might boil down to whether your players are on board. While the game system can help with that (by being cool and making expectations explicit), ultimately that's something you have to work out with them.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Melting the bullets

System: ICONS

Because I have an odd brain, I started wondering how hot your flame aura has to be before it vaporizes the bullets shot at you.

Iron melts at about 1500 degrees Celsius, and that's higher than the melting point of steel or brass, so we're going to use that. The boiling point is about twice that. I looked up some bullet weights under the misguided notion that all I had to do was figure the energy that went into that mass...I digress. Most bullets (as opposed to cartridges) are under 100 grams. There are exceptions, but we're wingin' it, baby.

Now, having looked at the math, I now know why (a) my university physics courses didn't touch heat transfer and (b) I'm not going to calculate the heat transfer. Let's just say that any heat involved has to be intense.

There isn't anything in ICONS about blast furnaces or arc welders. (I know, I'm shocked too.)

But at the heart of it, claiming that the character's fire aura vaporizes the bullets is such a comic book thing to do, so I want to keep hacking at this for a moment.

We could stunt it, treating the flame aura as a force field and the special effect as vaporizing the bullets, but that really seems like a betrayal of the comic-book-ness of it.

Now, military-style heavy weapons are damage rank 7. Incendiary bombs start at damage rank 7, and bullets are deformed in hitting materials of hardness 6 or so. So let's say that fire rank 7 is enough to melt a bullet, which is less than 100 grams of lead, steel, or brass, over a panel or three. Fire rank 8 would vaporize the bullet, if the bullet were in it for a panel or two or three. (Fired bullets hurt the target before then, whether it's rank 7 or 8.)

But rank 9 is in linear terms much more than rank 8. So let's say that any character with a flame aura of 9 or 10 really does vaporize the bullets before they hit his or her skin. Oh, you can still hurt them by dropping a locomotive on them: that's a lot of metal to heat up. But you can treat them as having a force field for the purposes of small flammable projectiles. Concrete would probably hurt, but thrown bottles and cans wouldn't even be noticed.

Of course, I just realized that you could spray them with bullets for a long time and suffocate them by making them breathe in all that vapor they've created....

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A One-Shot Idea: Graduation Exercise

System: Any

Had an idea for a one-shot today. You'd want pre-gens, I think, but I have no experience at one-shots for conventions or whatever.

Some masked adventurer from the forties or even thirties--call him Ulysses Prophet--is well known and is good, his backup plans have backup plans, but even with the life-extension stuff he got from the Lemurians or whatever, he's at the end of his time. Thugs aren't catching him yet, but he's had close calls with some of his arch-foes. So he's been training the player characters, and it's time for the final.

Here's the final: the PCs are locked in the insane asylum with Ulysses' greatest enemies and have to escape without causing harm to the staff, and defeat their main enemy, who will be Ulysses. Equipment will still be on the premises (boxed to be shipped out to the police station). Characters with actual powers are in rooms with power nullifiers.

Ulysses is worried that he might go soft on the characters, so he's had one of the doctors hypnotize him and plant suggestions that he hates the characters. There is a safeword to snap him out of the suggestion, and all of the medical staff know it. (Ulysses isn't stupid.)

Aside from all the clever things that players could think of to escape, here's a freebie: The presence of the PCs makes the asylum over-full, so when the kitchen microwave ovens are turned on, the power to the nullifiers flickers, giving the player one turn with one power. (The microwave ovens have to heat a bunch of meals, so this happens roughly every two minutes for about a half-hour near mealtimes.) A character who is a trained normal will probably find some other way to escape.

You knew there'd be a catch, though, and there are two:
  1. As worded, the doctor said that Ulysses has to hear the safeword, which is bad, because one of his early acts as Evil Ulysses was to bomb the secret tunnel that heads out of the asylum left him deaf. He can lipread (of course he can: we're really talking about Evil Batgod) but that won't counteract the hypnosis. Lipreading won't count, telepathy won't count, reading won't count (illusions of sounds sent directly to his brain would count; so would someone managing to heal him and then saying the safeword).
  2. Also as worded, the doctor left Ulysses not just hating the captured heroes, but loving the villains, so Ulysses is releasing the villains one by one, testing them for faithfulness, and sending them against the PCs.
Now, is that choice of wording accidental, or is it because the doctor is working for one of the villains locked up in the asylum, maybe the one that Ulysses wouldn't release because he's just too dangerous? Depends on how much play time you have.


I'd probably use the Mutants & Masterminds Providence Asylum map (though I have another old hospital building kicking around here). I'd box up the equipment and put it in the truck delivery area so that equipment characters have to fight there, first, and for some reason there are traps.